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Gamers Relying More On Advertising Than Inherent Quality?

Back when gaming couldn't be considered mainstream, and the majority of those who indulged in the hobby would commonly be labeled as "hardcore," advertising and brand recognition didn't drive sales as heavily as they do now. But with the massive influx of casual gamers, who rarely read reviews and simply base their decisions on what "looks fun," things have changed drastically.

We've always taken Sony to task for not advertising enough, and we can point to the recent launch of Killzone 2 as more evidence. Sure, they had a fairly impressive marketing campaign for the blockbuster, but the bottom line is that Halo Wars was far more visible. KZ2 has sold very well, of course, but perhaps it hasn't sold as many copies as better-advertised titles in the past like Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Now, we see the sales explosion of Resident Evil 5, which also features a heavy advertising campaign that includes Internet, TV and print publications. This is all well and good - any major industry requires the advertising of its products - but have we reached a point where ads and name recognition matter more than the quality of the game itself...?  Sure, all the aforementioned titles are great and even groundbreaking, but what if they weren't so amazing, and still had the same marketing campaigns?  Would the sales numbers have been drastically different?

We're hoping consumers aren't starting to rely more on ads than reviews, but it's a possibility we're going to have to consider. These days, the most popular movies never get Academy Award nominations (it didn't always used to be this way, but evidently, the movie-viewing public has grown increasingly dumber); the big ticket sales go to the brainless action extravaganzas and insulting comedies. Why? They're advertised to the gills in the vicious circle of ads versus popularity: if people keep wanting to see stupid movies, those are the ones they're going to make, and the ones they're going to advertise. How far away are we from seeing this phenomenon in video games? Right now, many of the best selling games of the year win all the annual awards (look at this year's AIAS list of nominees and victors), but how long will it last? We have this sneaking suspicion that with the casual gamers vastly outnumbering the hardcore these days, reviews will matter less and ads/name recognition will matter more.

Unfortunately, it may be inevitable. Prepare yourselves.

3/18/2009 Ben Dutka

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Comments (20 posts)

Xra897
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 10:47:37 PM
Reply

Not quite. Street Fighter was one of those stupid
action movies but barely got anything at the box office. And the dark knight got like 500mill something and it was praised by critics so ya there's still hope

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NeutralGamer_86
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 11:00:20 PM

The main thing with dark knight was the publicity of Heath Ledger's death that drove more people than usual to go see it. Yes it was a good movie, but would it still have done as well if it were not for his unfortunate death?

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Alienange
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 10:52:16 PM
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I think you're bang on with this. Casual gamers will affect the industry for the worse. I believe games like GTAIV, MGS4 and RE5 sell well based on past accomplishments in the series more than advertising. And I'll be danged if I didn't see a KZ2 poster at the bus stop. I nearly drove onto the sidewalk. KZ2 needs ads. It's not popularized by previous hits in the series.

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Starkiller
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 10:55:16 PM
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@Xra897 That is very true.....

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NeutralGamer_86
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 10:55:18 PM
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Advertising does exactly what it's supposed to do. You overload with ads every where you can think of and it will eventually get engraved in people minds. Hardcore gamers know what they like and where to find information on new games, but casual gamers see all the ads and assume that whatever games being advertise must be good if the company is spending so much money pushing it.
A perfect example are drug dealers. "loyal" customers will always be there, those that that are gullible get persuaded by the dealer to purchase their product. Might be a bad example, but it does work. (and no I am not a dealer)

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ed_winchester
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 4:26:31 AM

@Neutralgamer
hit the nail on the head there, very true
(btw you're not a dealer but a user that knows where to go? lol)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 11:00:12 PM
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I'd say this is obviously dead on, since Sony is against advertising and MS is willing to put a ton of the revenue from sales into the ads for the games we will always see bigger sales on the titles most advertised or even properly advertised. KZ2 made strides in the ad department, but still look at the poor ads LBP had. The new Halo is of course a good example, very visible=must buy for the drones.

PS: I've seen the RE5 commercial a thousand times... followed by the X360 logo.

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NeutralGamer_86
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 11:12:26 PM

And don't forget the limited edition 360 they're also selling to persuade people to buy the 360 instead of a PS3.

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Victor321
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 11:01:57 PM
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"Readies Helghast Rifle"

War has Spoken.

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 @ 11:57:48 PM
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Mainstream.......

People wanting to "fit in"
Yup it's a sad reality

Though the good thing is that gamers are different than movie lovers/music lovers.

We're hardcore lol, so we still prefer quality over everything else.

Sadly don't know/think we're the majoriy anymore. With the Wii doing its thing...... :(

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Cpt_Geez
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 12:31:00 AM
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Commercials,ads,internet,billboards and etc is how most peole hear about games movies and etc. There are people out there that still dont know how much a wii,ps3 or 360 cost. Promotion is everything now days. A product has to be pushed and demonstrated in order to sell lots of units.

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ceedot
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 3:44:30 AM
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Yeah, people can make games look really good these days in advertising but they turn out to be shit. I really take instinct, word of mouth and reviews.

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Vivi_Gamer
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 4:07:49 AM
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the only real form of comercialism i do i take notice to is reviews, advertisements and hype dont usuually effect me, though i have to admit if a game is hyped and im not fond of it (Killzone 2, GTAIV) i have to admit it makes me quite grouchy

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Fenrir
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 4:13:39 AM
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Bad films, bad games - in ads they lokk like cool stuff. The only difference is - if an ad is rendered it is always revealed by press and if itīs nt - you can prejudge the game by the graphics. Games are much more sold over vids on the internet, but by tv spots. And after all - what was this KZ2 hyperhyper, here and almost everywhere? You yourself Ben went sick writing the everyday hype news for KZ2 - wasnīt it that way? And? KZ2 is good but not god. F.E.A.R 2 has a much better gameplay for example. (m.o.)
Anyway its hard not to fall into hysteria, while thousands are already into it. :-) Well, we have a German saying: 'Poo-poo is surely the best thing in the world, because 1 Trillion flies canīt be wrong!'

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NeutralGamer_86
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 8:32:28 AM
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@ed_winchester
lol. Should have expected that one. lol

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PANICinc
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 1:24:04 PM
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I think it's funny how many people rushed out to get Halo Wars simply because it's a Halo game! I've seen more copies of that returned than any other game this year. Simple fact, they didn't know what kind of game it was, but had to get it!

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Arvis
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 2:16:16 PM

...and yet all those returns still count as sales...

-Arvis

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ImTheMan
Thursday, March 19, 2009 @ 11:54:06 PM

They couldnt have returned it. Once you open it you cant return it.

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crawdaddy
Friday, March 20, 2009 @ 9:40:59 PM
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Gamers in the know research games before buying them.

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Minishmaru
Saturday, March 21, 2009 @ 8:10:38 AM
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True gamers know how to buy games, people that don't game very often will buy into the hype or advertising. Look at all the people that bought Killzone 2...how much advertising did you see on tv of that? very little. But didn't it sell like a million copies already? :)

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